Writing or Wasting Time?

Are you wasting all your time with all these words? #areyoustillwriting #amwriting #writerswrite

I have gotten out of the habit of writing.

And serious writing depends on just that—habit. Not waiting for inspiration or time or a good night’s sleep or a better outline or the dog to shut up or until you take some class/webinar/retreat.

Writing requires that you sit down and do it. No matter what. As often as possible, every day if you can. You start where you are and spill your jumbled thoughts, wandering storylines, and vast emotions on the page. Your fingers tap along as your heart and mind try to make sense of it. (or maybe that’s just how it works for me.)

If you keep going, pressing past the doubt and frustration and discouragement and that little nagging bird fluttering all around you chirping that you’re wasting so much time, if you wave her away and type on, I promise something will come of it.

Maybe you’ll write something that will help others or spin into a short story or a novel or a blog post, or maybe (and this is what happens most for me) it will simply clear the cluttered decks of your mind so that you can see more clearly what you want to do or write or how to move toward.

At worst (and this is never a bad thing) it is practice—stretching and forming those writing muscles.

Since moving last July, I have yet to write anything of consequence. At least in terms of my writing career. It’s a daily challenge to clear my head and heart, and often when I’m done, I feel better but I have nothing to show for it except an ever filling hard drive crammed with half-finished blog posts, essays, and even the beginning of another novel, none of which are what I want to say and all of which are really just me whining and pinning and spinning in endless circles of frustration waiting for the writing magic to strike.

I know I have to spit all of that out to make room for the messages that will matter to someone beyond me.

This is all easy for me to say; I’ve been here before. I know that eventually gold will rise from all these pages of poop. But… full confession…. it’s never taken this long before. I’ve often wadded in this lake of uncertainty and eventually found dry land, but gosh people, this feels more like an ocean.

And yet, I will keep typing, typing, typing (I’ve even tried writing a little by long hand, but my fingers never move as fast as my mind).

Sooner or later, the writing magic will return and I’ll know which way to go. After seven years of a book a year, 2022 will be a barren one for me. And that’s okay, maybe it’s even a relief after the last two during the pandemic. I’m going to catch my breath, find my footing in this new place, and listen for my heart to lead me where I’m meant to go.

How about you? I hope you are writing for blog or print or book, or mostly, for yourself. There is time to sit and wait for the writing magic to arrive. You are not wasting your time or your words. Soon enough (or maybe it will be a while) you will get enough words out, and there will be room for the writing magic to strike, and when it does, I hope you’re ready, fingers or pen poised.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.



My latest novel, Blind Turn is a mother-daughter story of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident. Learn more about it and find out how to get your copy here.

If you’re curious about what else I’m up to, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

And If you’re a dog lover, and you want to know what is really happening in the animal shelters in this country (and how you can help), visit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

My book, 100 Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues was released July 2020 from Pegasus books and is available anywhere books are sold, but if you’d like some help finding it (or want to read some lovely reviews), click here.

Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and dog rescuer. I live in the darling town of Woodstock, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and three rescue dogs (who rescue me on a daily basis). Find more information about my books, my dogs, and all my writing adventures at CaraWrites.com.

12 thoughts on “Writing or Wasting Time?”

  1. I’ve stopped writing my blog and returned to a novel I started a few years back. I think writing to a prompt every day was very good for me for many reasons, not the least of which was maintaining a community during weird times. But I am pretty sure I’m finished — for a while at least. I think Covid and politics put me into kind of a stasis and I’m tired of it. I want to move forward. I found myself wanting a conversation no one around me offers and my blog doesn’t offer. So… I’m not expecting to rock the world with this story but I’m challenging and interesting myself in something WAY beyond me. Take it easy on yourself, Cara.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your daily blogging has always been an inspiration to me. You are transparent about everything, not afraid to expose your heart, your opinions, your successes and failings. I’m glad your returning to a story that obviously is still asking to be told. Best wishes, friend!


  2. Poet William Stafford always encouraged daily writing. His son, Kim, has continued the legacy. When it isn’t going well, the elder Stafford said: “Lower your expectations.” But keep going. It sounds like that is instinctive to you. Piles of dreck will allow you to squeeze out a ruby sometimes. Then, we can dance while working toward the next gem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In real life there’s nothing less important than what we write except to us. It doesn’t matter what we write. I woke up this morning with a poem by Theodore Roethke going through my mind. He’s a poet that was very important to the generation to which my high school teachers belonged. I don’t know if anyone cares about him or thinks about him any more, if his work is still taught in school, or how important is the experiments he was doing with poetry, his mental state, or even what he said. I don’t know if he stressed out about writing or not, but the reality is that except for a few names who may or may not represent the zeitgeist of an era our work doesn’t matter at all. Only to us.

      Anyway, here’s the poem.

      The Waking
      I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
      I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
      I learn by going where I have to go.

      We think by feeling. What is there to know?
      I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
      I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

      Of those so close beside me, which are you?
      God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
      And learn by going where I have to go.

      Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
      The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
      I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

      Great Nature has another thing to do
      To you and me; so take the lively air,
      And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

      This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
      What falls away is always. And is near.
      I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
      I learn by going where I have to go.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a wonderful poem – I ‘take my waking slow’ is a phrase worth meditating on – not just in terms of physically waking, but emotionally/socially/mentally also. Speaks of mindfulness. Writers are mindful by nature.

        Liked by 1 person

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